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Lymphedema Risk Reduction

Posted 7/12/2014

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  First an apology for my two day absence (although I suspect that I flatter myself by thinking that anyone notices or cares much). The internet struggles in Maine just got to me, and I needed a break. We came reluctantly home last night, and things are much simpler from here.

  Today's topic is a recent study suggesting that weight maintenance and exercise (yes, once again, that duo that we hear about all the time) may reduce the risk of lymphedema.

  Many of us worry about lymphedema and there are wildly different statistics regarding the incidence. The bottom line is that a relatively small percentage of women develop lymphedema, but it never goes away once you have it. Women at greatest risk are those who have had both a full axillary dissection and radiation therapy. It can, however, happen to anyone. Truly this is not worth much worry, but it is worth reading this article. Here is the start and a link to read more:

  Pilot Study Suggests Optimal Lymph Flow Program May Help Reduce Lymphedema

Risk Lymphedema is the swelling of the soft tissues caused by a build-up of lymph fluid. Lymph is a thin, clear fluid that circulates through your body to remove waste, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Edema is the medical term for swelling.
Depending on the type of surgery and other treatments a person has, it’s possible for lymphedema to occur in the arm, hand, breast, trunk, or abdomen. The swelling can be accompanied by pain, tightness, numbness, and sometimes infection. Lymphedema can happen days, months, or years after breast cancer treatment and can be temporary or ongoing. Because lymphedema can be misdiagnosed or overlooked in mild cases, it’s difficult to know exactly how many women are affected. Experts estimate that 20-30% of women will have some type of lymphedema after breast cancer surgery.
A study suggests lifestyle changes aimed at getting to and maintaining a healthy weight as well as promoting the flow of lymph fluid can help reduce lymphedema risk in women who have been treated for breast cancer.




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